Thursday :: Nov 3, 2005

Four Years After 9/11, Bush's Cronyism Extends To National Intelligence As Well


by Steve

How important to Bush is the quality of the intelligence he receives, in the aftermath of his 9/11 failings, his Iraq WMD failings and lies, and after his staff have been indicted for lying to a grand jury? Well apparently he still doesn’t take intelligence seriously enough.

It’s bad enough that Bush appointed a guy to FEMA who cared more about himself and whether he needed to “tweak” things than he did those who were in harm’s way from Katrina. That cronyism was bad enough. But now we find out that four years after 9/11 that Bush’s cronyism extends to national security and intelligence also. Bush appointed nine (9) campaign contributors to the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board last week, ensuring that Bush will never receive any bad news or recommendations contrary to what he wants to do anyway.

President Bush last week appointed nine campaign contributors, including three longtime fund-raisers, to his Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, a 16-member panel of individuals from the private sector who advise the president on the quality and effectiveness of U.S. intelligence efforts. After watching the fate of Michael Brown as head of FEMA and Harriet Miers as Supreme Court nominee, you might think the president would be wary about the appearance of cronyism—especially with a critical national-security issue such as intelligence. Instead, Bush reappointed William DeWitt, an Ohio businessman who has raised more than $300,000 for the president’s campaigns, for a third two-year term on the panel. Originally appointed in 2001, just a few weeks after the 9/11 attacks, DeWitt, who was also a top fund-raiser for Bush’s 2004 Inaugural committee, was a partner with Bush in the Texas Rangers baseball team.
Other appointees included former Commerce secretary Don Evans, a longtime Bush friend; Texas oilman Ray Hunt; Netscape founder Jim Barksdale, and former congressman and 9/11 Commission vice chairman Lee Hamilton. Like DeWitt, Evans and Hunt have also been longtime Bush fund-raisers, raising more than $100,000 apiece for the president’s campaigns. Barksdale and five other appointees—incoming chairman Stephen Friedman, former Reagan adviser Arthur Culvahouse, retired admiral David Jeremiah, Martin Faga and John L. Morrison—were contributors to the president’s 2004 re-election effort.

Yup, that looks like a powerhouse group of national security heavyweights, doesn’t it?

Update: Commenter Maxwell took me to task for questioning the background and qualifications of the new appointees Bush named last week. Sure Maxwell, I’ll play along.

The new chair of the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board is economist and former NEC chairperson Stephen Friedman, whom I suspect knows only a fraction of what the former chair Brent Scowcroft did about intelligence and national security.

Then Bush named long-time cronies and Texas oilmen Don Evans and Ray Hunt, as well as Netscape founder Jim Barksdale. Exactly how much foreign intelligence knowledge do you think they have?

And how qualified is John Morrison, who is an official at a private investment firm and whose claim to fame is that he knows something about the Pillsbury Doughboy?

Hey, I'm sure that William DeWitt, part owner of the St. Louis Cardinals, and one of the guys who bailed Bush out of Arbusto Energy is qualified, right? After all, his firm owns Arby’s restaurants; does that count?

Steve :: 1:32 PM :: Comments (28) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!